Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Couponing: How to get Started Part II

So in Part I we talked about where to find coupons and how to get them, and today we're going to discuss where to put ALL of those coupons!  There are many ways you can store your coupons so I will discuss the pros and cons of each way, and then you can choose what will work best for you.  There's nothing saying that you won't be able to change your mind later if your first organization choice doesn't work out for you.  So let's dive in and see some of the ways you can organize your coupons.

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  • The Envelope Method - This method involves multiple envelopes and clipping all the coupons from the weekly newspaper (plus the other sources of coupons).  Each envelope will be labeled for the type of coupons you will be storing in there.  For example, you would have an envelope for dairy, meats, pet foods, household items, personal care, etc.  However many categories you want to break your coupons into would be how many envelopes you would need.
    • Pros - Very inexpensive, easy to carry, sorted by category
    • Cons - Not very durable, cannot see all of the individual coupons (you'd have to thumb through them each time you were looking for a coupon), and you have to clip all of your coupons.
  • The Box Method - This method is similar to the Envelope Method, only instead of envelopes you use cardboard separators (or whatever type) in a box.  You would have a box large enough to make your different categories (meat, dairy, personal care, etc.) and then you would clip your coupons and file them in the appropriate category.
    • Pros - Inexpensive, easy to store, sorted by category, large enough to store your store coupon policies
    • Cons - Bulky, cannot see all of the individual coupons, and you have to clip all our your coupons.
  • The Accordion File Method I - The first way you can go about this method is similar to the envelope system, only your coupons are all in one file system.  They have different slots for each "category" of coupons and some even come with a zippered pocket. (This is the method that I will be starting to replace my old method).  You can either clip ALL of your coupons and file into a file folder like this, OR you can clip the coupons you printed, ordered from a clipping service, or those stray coupons your receive in the mail.  If you elect not to clip the coupons from the newspaper (until the time they are needed), then you will need a separate file folder to store your coupon inserts.  Many people will use the larger (8.5"x11") accordion file folders and separate their weekly inserts that way, my purse just happens to have a laptop sleeve in it that I have been using to store my inserts.
    •  Pros - Inexpensive, easy to carry, has slots for multiple categories of coupons
    • Cons - Will have to flip through coupons to find which one you need and there is no real place to put your store coupon policy's.
  • The Accordion File Method II - The second way is using the larger (8.5"x11") file folder and using it to store your weekly coupon inserts, and printed coupons.  You can sort your inserts based on month or week, depending on how large your file folder is.  This was the first method I used when I started couponing heavily.  Many people who clip coupons on a need to clip basis use this system, or one similar.  The inserts are sorted and then all you have to do is look up (in a coupon database) which insert the coupon is located in, and then look through that specific insert.
    • Pros - Inexpensive, easy to carry, has slots for multiple categories of coupons, has a large enough slot to store coupon policies.
    • Cons - no real place to put scissors, pens, or a calculator; slots too large for clipped coupons...may slide through the bottom or get "lost" inside of the file folder

  • The Binder Method - This method involves using a 1", 2", 3", zippered or non-zippered binder.  With the binder you use dividers to separate your categories, and then baseball card inserts.  These inserts can be be 1 slot (full page), 3 slots, 6 slots, or 9 slots depending on how many coupons you want per page.  This method is very user friendly when it comes time to find what you coupon you want because all you have to do is flip to that category.  Also, it comes in very handy when you spot an unadvertised sale or clearance items.  This method does involve clipping all coupons and storing them in their specified category.
    • Pros - Easily accessible to coupons, can buy a pouch for 3 ring binder to store calculator and scissors, large enough to store your store's coupon policy.
    • Cons - Can be expensive to start, uses a lot of time to keep organized and filled
Okay, so that was a pretty long winded spiel about some of the different methods of organizing your coupons.  I encourage you to decide on what you think will be easiest for you.  There is nothing saying you can't start at a cheaper way and work your way up to something else.  Also, for those of you who will be using the Binder Method, you don't have to buy everything at once.  Just get enough coupon sleeves to start you out and then start adding to it when you have more available money from all of your grocery savings!  You can also check out my previous post here about Coupon Organization.

Be on the lookout for Part III where we will discuss the best way to use your coupons and get the most bang for your buck!

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